Questions on Kyoto

December 27th, 2008 at 9:10 am by David Farrar

has some questions on Kyoto. They are not questions about the basic science that if emissions increase, temperatures will increase. It is about the details behind :

Several aspects of the Kyoto Protocol really annoy me.  For a start how can we solve this problem if major emitting economies have not taken on any obligations?  It looks as though the US will take on commitments to whatever replaces Kyoto but there seems no chance off China, India and Brazil etc taking on commitments.

If China and Inida especially do not come on board, it is all a waste of time and money. China has replaced the US as the world’s biggest emitter.

Why is there such inconsistency over points of obligation?  Why are consumers held responsible to the release of GHGs from oil, gas and coal and not the producing countries, when the country that cuts down a tree is held responsible for emitting the full amount of carbon stored in that tree from the time that it is cut down?  An importing country faces the full liability for emissions from gas, oil and coal, but exporting country faces the full liability for wood.  And why does the exporting country face the full liability for its agricultural emissions as opposed to the country that is going to actually consume the product that was produced as a result of all those emissions having been made?  So New Zealand imports oil from country x and bears the full costs of releasing the GHGs from burning that oil in New Zealand.  We export meat to country x, but also face the full cost of producing all the GHGs released while producing this meat.

Kyoto was a very flawed response to . Even if fully implemented, it will only lower average mean temperature by 0.07 degrees by 2050.

Charles also raises some fascinating points over stock and methane. Would be good to see a point by point response to his questions by someone who can.

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24 Responses to “Questions on Kyoto”

  1. reid (15,498 comments) says:

    Kyoto was not designed to decrease global temperatures, it was designed to get the world used to the concept of wholesale transfer of wealth and to elevate the AGW issue onto the world stage to provide an argument for those who now say that nation X must jump on the bandwagon because most of nation X’s trading partners now have.

    It’s been wildly successful in both those objectives, sorry to say.

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  2. davejac (2 comments) says:

    “Now this is where I am hoping to be corrected, but my reading of the Kyoto Protocol gas calculation rules suggests that the methane emitted is being measured (estimated based on stock numbers) in gross terms. But no counterbalancing adjustment is being made for the fact that the components that make the methane were largely absorbed from atmosphere as carbon (methane – CH4 – is one atom of carbon and four of hydrogen).”

    The carbon in methane isn’t coming from the air- it’s coming from the grass as cellulose and other organic material (which yes, does come from the CO2 in the air). However it overlooks the fact that methane is also a very potent greenhouse gas itself. But other than that he raises some good points, and it’s nice to see him mention the biochar prospects at the end.

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  3. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    It will be very interesting to see who/if anyone, from the advocates of the Kyoto Protocol are willing to take up the challange and respond.

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  4. Christopher (425 comments) says:

    Even if fully implemented, it will only lower average mean temperature by 0.07 degrees by 2050.

    Actually, it will lower it by 0.00 degrees, since AGW is complete bollocks.

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  5. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    Kyoto, was the place where the Great and the Good flew in to the Country in their Big Govt. Jets, and were driven around in huge armoured SUV’s, and feasted on the best food and wines for how long again?

    Their functionaries did the same but for longer. Before and after summit.

    There is no concern about Global Warming. It is highbrow politics of wealth transference, and the US only got on board years later when it was pointed out how much this would retard growth in the 3rd World.

    They would continue to live on handouts, and have no help in Industrialisation.

    Just like all benefit systems, it only favours the Administrators!

    Not the Recipients, and not the Funders.

    Kyoto was all about UN, and allied NGO’s, and World Beurocracies covering their ass’s in the IT world, and sucking even more money into their Super Funds.

    It’s the only game in town! Oh, and lots of power and huge expense accounts.

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  6. jastowns (157 comments) says:

    global warming is a con,carbon is not a poison,this year was the coldest for decades,al gore is a con man not a scientist,you paying a extra tax will not stop the carbon,no doubt we have to clean up owr act a little
    do some research into this and you soon find the earth has had up to10 times the carborn it has today and we are still here
    the earth has been up and down like a yoyo thoughout history it has nothing to do with us
    those stupid enough to think paying a extra tax will fix things deserve to pay it,fucken sheep
    stop watching tv its turning you all stupid

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  7. georgebolwing (493 comments) says:

    Addressing a few general points first, by way of declaring my biases.

    I have a rule about the rhetoric of global warming that says that anyone who makes categorical statement (i.e. “global warming is happening” or “global warming is a hoax”) is wrong.

    This should be a debate about uncertainty and how we should deal with it.

    My view is that we know enough about the science of climate change and the state of the world to conclude that it would be prudent for there to be less greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. One of the important things that we know about the science of climate change is that we don’t know everything. But we know that there is a non-trivial probability (i.e. small but not zero) of truly catastrophic events (sea-level rising to inundate major population centres; marked changes in participation, etc).

    So, the question comes down to, what is the best way to be prudent?

    Given what we know and don’t know about the climate system, “wait and see”, while often the right approach to dealing with uncertainty, seems to be imprudent: if the theories about catastrophic events prove to be correct, then the theories that there are long and variable lags in the system might also be correct, which means that waiting for more conclusive evidence to appear could mean that we end up that we are in the position that we know there is a problem, but we also know that it is too late to do anything about it.

    So, to the Kyoto Protocol.

    The Protocol is a deeply flawed, first attempt, to get global co-operation on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

    It is based on the idea of “common but differentiated responsibility”: i.e. that all countries have a responsibility to address the issue, but what different capacities to do so. So this is why the OECD countries and the former Soviet republics have taken on binding commitments to reduce emissions, while developing countries have agreed to participate in a verifiable programme of emissions reductions financed by developed countries (the “Green Development Mechanism”).

    As Charles notes in his post, the Protocol’s detailed rules (found in the Marrakesh accords) have flaws. The “instant oxidation” rule around forestry is clearly one, where a tree is deemed to release all its carbon at the point (in both time and space) of felling.

    Some critics of Kyoto proffer a counsel of perfection: unless an international accord is “perfect” (however that is defined), New Zealand, and indeed the whole world, should not agree to it.

    This is a counsel for inaction and would, in my view, be imprudent.

    All the countries of the world do have a common, but differentiated responsibility to address the risks about climate change. The task is to find the least imperfect way of addressing this issue, not debate what perfection means.

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  8. KiwiGreg (3,128 comments) says:

    All the carbon contained in a tree is instantly emitted under Kyoto only when a tree is chopped down and another tree not replanted on exactly the same land (I think within 5 years). So chopping down a hectare of trees and replanting them doesnt emit any Kyoto carbon but chopping down a hectare of trees and replanting them a kilometer away results in all of the carbon being emitted under Kyoto.

    Yep yep politics meets bad science.

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  9. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    Makes perfect sense! (not)

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  10. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    So lets see if I understand you correctly george. It is better to do anything no matter how flawed or what the cost than it is to wait and see.

    My understanding is that climate change, global warming should have started by now. And yet it hasnt. There have been storms and cyclones but there have always been storms and cyclones. The temperature has been cooler recently, not warmer. And yet 20 years ago we were told it would happen within 10 years and we are still being told “in ten years”.

    I believe climates change no matter what mankind does. They have for millions of years. And we have concrete proof of this.

    Its a matter of degrees. It would be more prudent to work out ways to adapt to change if you believe it is going to be really severe for example another iceage than to undertake a flawed scheme that appears to many people to be a straight redistribution of wealth.

    We may say its not about the science but it is. And although I was willing to believe at first I have waited and waited for the ‘science’ true science that is facts, figures and examples and not another computer model.

    If you can point me where I may find that I would be happy to reconsider.

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  11. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    None of the models or measurements predict catastrophic inundation of coastal areas.
    The only one who does in Al Gore in his movie and the UK court found that to be an error.

    In normal times like these, sea levels rise and fall mainly due to ocean currents and tectonic plate movement.

    Of course is you get a genuine ice age then sea levels fall dramatically and rise again as the ice melts. But these events take a long time.
    The small rising of the last century is as normal as any other change in the dynamic system we call the Earth.

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  12. goodgod (1,363 comments) says:

    Even if fully implemented, it will only lower average mean temperature by 0.07 degrees by 2050.

    Doesn’t this statement prove that every element of the GW theory is flawed? Temperatures can change more than that, naturally. So man has no real effect on global temperature.

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  13. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    Exactly!

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  14. reid (15,498 comments) says:

    “Of course is you get a genuine ice age then sea levels fall dramatically and rise again as the ice melts. But these events take a long time.”

    Not sure about that, Owen. I recall some news items about ice core studies that indicated an ice age can arise within a 10-year period. Apparently it gradually builds to a tipping point then it rapidly comes about.

    Of course see my first comment for what I think about Kyoto/AGW – it’s almost certainly complete bollocks but convincing fanatics of such is as difficult as it always is…

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  15. jastowns (157 comments) says:

    GW was made up by the bilderberg group in 1963,they decided to push it through schools to make our childern happy to pay the tax,along with this there will be carbon police everywhere enforcing fines and penalty’s on us all,it wont be just a tax
    ask yourself this question” where dose the money go”
    a quick search away from government propaganda sites revels many false records used to scare the public into thinking theres no other way
    dont believe me do your own research

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  16. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    If we are in that much danger, and have to impose extra tax on travel.

    Then just close the airports, aircraft production, car production.

    In stead they build more and bigger Aircraft and are all busy building New Terminals, and indeed New Airports.

    What Gives?

    What a con.

    If it was subsidies for Industries been given for new technologies, and tax creditsfor everyone for lowering waste then it would have more credibility.

    Then the refuse collection Industry say there is no more space for any more Landfill Sites. So the prices will have to go up.

    It is all a well orchestrated Scam.

    Like the move to diesel was orchestrated by all Govt.s, and now look at the price of diesel. Manipulation of thye Masses

    Instead it is all tax and bans, and trades.

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  17. fredinthegrass (268 comments) says:

    Lets be clear – Global Warming IS a political myth, and Kyoto is the tool that propogates the myth. We need to be concentrating on studying the data being collected, and watching the trends that this data generates.
    There is little doubt humans and industrialisation are having an effect on our planet.
    The degree, and long-term effect, are largely unknown.
    This debate just reinforces my opinion of how little we all know about this hugely complex subject.

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  18. radvad (620 comments) says:

    Even if the earth was warming why should it be a problem? After all, the same scientists who push that barrow are those who tell us we evolved from monkeys or something. Surely we would just continue to evolve to meet the challenges of a supposedly changing environment.
    Admittedly the monkeys could be in a bit of trouble.

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  19. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Reid, yes Ice Ages can occur quite rapidly but I was talking about the ice melts.
    It takes a long time for a few degrees change in temperature to melt an ice blanket a few miles think.
    This is why the idea of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice cover totally melting within 90 years is nonsense.

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  20. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Believe me slight warming is no problem. The warm periods (warmer than now) called the Minoan Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period and the Mediaval Warm period where times when civilisations were born and flourished, and populations boomed as people could grow more food. The Polynesians migrated across the Pacific during the Medieval Warm Period and even reached New Zealand.
    Then came the Little Ice Age. Populations declined, food production declined, and the Black Death wiped out forty percent of the population of Europe. The Maori stopped coming to NZ and Easter Island was isolated. The Little Ice Age ended around 1850.

    We now appear to be entering a cool period and if all the wrong ducks line up it could be another Little Ice Age and it won’t be very nice. Far more people die from cold around the world each winter than die from heat in summer.
    Respiratory diseases flourish as do the diseases of malnourishment.

    So what many will regard as good news (Global Warming is not happening) may turn out to be very bad news indeed.
    Somehow the Greens will insist that we have caused the cooling.

    It always our fault.

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  21. georgebolwing (493 comments) says:

    LUCY

    I never said that it was better to do ANYTHING rather than wait and see. The question is what is the best way to be prudent?

    Adaptation is one option, which has costs and benefits. Mitigation also has costs and benefits.

    Kyoto includes both adaptation and mitigation, if only because it involves a slow reduction in emissions, meaning a higher probability of harmful climate change, to which we will have to adapt.

    And yes, the climate system changes all the time. But again the question is (a) is human activity going to have harmful effects, (b) can we avoid some or all of those effects if we change behaviour and (c) what are the relative costs and benefits?

    On the question of timing – and this is also applicable to many other aspects of this debate – the question is who is saying what? There are many voices in this debate, from the IPCC, to Al Gore, Greenpeace, other NGOs, governments of every stripe and the media, who report all of these voices and add their own. So it is hard to respond to your statement “we were told it would happen within 10 years”. I am sure that you can find records of people saying that.

    I tend to go to the IPCC Assessment Reports. They are very long and detailed, but I think you have to take the time to read them yourself, since at least that way you are getting closer to the source of the expert views.

    They are a summary of the science that we have at the moment. Again, it would be nice if our knowledge was perfect and complete. But it isn’t. And it will never be possible to run controlled experiments on the whole climate system, since there is not other climate system we can use as a control. So predictions of future states will always be model-based.

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  22. Christopher (425 comments) says:

    I tend to go to the IPCC Assessment Reports.

    Then you are a fool.

    I think you have to take the time to read them yourself

    Yes, you do.

    since at least that way you are getting closer to the source of the expert views

    Wrong.

    I could spend literally hours talking about AGW, but I prefer reading Kiwiblog to writing lot on it.

    However, I will try to help a bit with your questions.

    (a) is human activity going to have harmful effects

    Almost certainly not.

    (b) can we avoid some or all of those effects if we change behaviour

    Almost certainly not.

    what are the relative costs and benefits?

    Benefits: None
    Costs: Trillions of dollars, decades of human development and millions of lives (particularly in the third world).

    It sounds like I’m another redneck “I don’t believe in this crap because…. I just don’t” idiot, but that’s just because I can’t be arsed typing a lot.

    Trust me, “Global Warming” is a purely political phenomenon.

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  23. LUCY (359 comments) says:

    I have read all of the IPCC Assesment reports and you are right they are long but they are very very short on detail about anything other than what they think ( as opposed to what they know) about climate change.

    The computer model depends intirely on the data that is feed into it. You can come up with any sort of answer that you want by entering the data that will produce those results and that is why I and many like me want hard scientific evidence. I understand that the first core samples were taken in 1998 when the climate was heating up but the latest samples taken in 2003 have reversed the trend.

    I have read all of the reports and papers I can including those of Vincent Gray, Robert Carter, David Evans eg. I have listened to the opinions of Dr. Jan Wright (who was on the board of EECA I worked with EECA for a time) and many may others. I wont mention Al Gore as one of the people whos opinion I took seriously and I dont know anyone in the science community who still does.

    Even if I am wrong it worries me the the majority of people who believe in man made climate change want to shut any debate down eg Dr. Jan Wright.

    Robust debate is the only way we can move forward and if you are really sure of your position you will welcome it.

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  24. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,784 comments) says:

    The ETS should be scrapped. It’s a luxury that New Zealand could never afford.

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